George Munro, New York, 1867-1908

 "GEORGE MUNRO" -- from The Biographer (New York), No. 1 (1883), p19-21

The imprint containing the words "George Munro" is the most familiar in the United States. As the manufacturer of twenty thousand, more or fewer, books, six days of every week, Mr. Munro is ranked among the leading men of business in this country. He supplies the people with cheap copies of all such new-books, produced in English or other language, as they are likely to read; and with handsome reprints of standard works, and the most intellectual (if the expression may be allowed) of English magazines, at a nominal price for each copy. The natural consequence of this enterprise is, that the majority of readers in this country encourage it, taking the business view of its convenience to them and disregarding the croakings of those either misinformed or untruthful writers who speak of Mr. Munro as a "pirate," charging him unjustly with the absence of an international copyright law, appropriating the work of foreign writers without paying for it. So far from doing this, Mr. Munro takes care to remunerate the authors of all the foreign books reprinted by him, excepting of such the copyright of which has expired, although of course, under no obligation to do so; and he has yet to hear a complaint of unfair treatment from any one of these persons. That Mr. Munro is able to be on the best of terms with foreign writers, to publish new and attractive books at ten cents or twenty cents a copy, and try become wealthy as the result of doing this, possibly may be a grievance to those whose interests lie, as they mistakenly think, in maintaining a high price of books. Our belief is that the more cheap books are sold, the more copies of costly editions of the same works will be in demand. The interests of all publishers are in the direction of increasing the number of people who read and appreciate books. Of almost every one it is true that he desires to possess a fine edition of a book he loves.

George Munro, who supplies the million with exclusively wholesome works, is a native of Nova Scotia, and is in the prime of life. He was educated at Dalhousie College, Halifax, an institution subsequently endowed by him with chairs of physics, political economy and history, and English literature and metaphysics; and with gifts of bursaries and exhibitions aggregating several thousand dollars yearly. After he was graduated Mr. Munro remained in college for a time as tutor. Having determined upon a business life, he left Halifax for New York about twenty-one years ago, and soon found employment with the American News Company of that city. He remained with the company until he had acquired sufficient experience and capital to begin business on his own account. His first venture was The Fireside Companion, a weekly magazine, the initial number of which was produced November 2, 1867. Its circulation increased in a most gratifying manner, and is now about a quarter of a million copies a week. The republication from this journal of stories and other matter in cheap book form led to the second of Mr. Munro's great enterprises, namely, the establishment of the Seaside Library, the first number of which was published May 20, 1877. " East Lynne" has been followed by about sixteen hundred other works, in editions never of fewer than ten thousand copies, and aggregating a total of many million books. As a new book is printed and published six days of every seven, it is impossible to be exact in the use of figures. American, English, French and German authors are represented in the long catalogue of the Seaside Library. Works of American authors and translations are copyrighted. The form of the library is large quarto pamphlet. It comprises many books of information as well as works of fiction, and both are admirably selected and published in time to meet the convenience of the best-informed readers.

On the twentieth of May, 1881, the English public were given the Revised version of the New Testament. The next morning were published two numbers of the Seaside Library, each containing one hundred and twenty pages, on which were printed the King James and Revised versions side by side, with marginal notes and the list of readings preferred by the American members of the Committee of Revision, the preface of the new version, and an introduction by Constantine Tischendorf of Leipzig, giving on account of the Vatican, Alexandrian and Sinaitic manuscripts, and readings from them. This is probably the most notable instance on record of rapid work in the production of books.

Mr. Munro's "Die Deutsche Library," begun March 30, 1881, is published semi-weekly at prices as low as those of the Seaside Library. The first number of his New York Monthly Fashion Bazar, was issued November, 1879. It has a large circulation, owing in part to its beautiful colored illustrations. The best-educated Americans are indebted to Mr. Munro for his cheap but handsome reprints of the Contemporary Review, the Nineteenth Century and Fortnightly Review, begun respectively in July, August, and September of 1879. Mr. Munro pays the English publishers for the use of their matter, and the proprietors of the Nineteenth Century and Fortnightly Review send him advance sheets.

The Munro publishing establishment consists, of two large connected buildings, one of them new, thoroughly provided with tae means to the most economical and rapid production of hooks. His employees are well paid and always prompt and cheerful to undertake an exceptionally big job, as that of producing the New Testament for example.

Mr. Munro is a man who is much beloved. He is courteous and gentle, diligent and sagacious in business, as the above account indicates, and able consequently to maintain very considerable charities, as well as to live in the enjoyment of the comforts and elegancies of life, and to enlarge the scope of his business as opportunity serves. He adheres to the faith in which he was educated, and is a devout member of the church under the pastoral charge of the eminent Dr. John Hall.

Last revised: 1 October 2010